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Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon (original 1999; edition 2009)

by Neal Stephenson

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13,091203173 (4.22)417
Authors:Neal Stephenson
Info:HarperCollins e-books (2009), Kindle Edition, 1168 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:historical fiction, WWII, cryptography

Work details

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999)

  1. 192
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (moonstormer)
  2. 122
    Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter (Zaklog)
    Zaklog: Cryptonomicon strikes me as the kind of book that Hofstadter would write if he wrote fiction. Both books are complex, with discursive passages on mathematics and a positively weird sense of humor. If you enjoyed (rather than endured) the explanatory sections on cryptography and the charts of Waterhouse's love life (among other, rarely charted things) you should really like this book.… (more)
  3. 100
    The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet by David Kahn (grizzly.anderson)
    grizzly.anderson: A great and fairly easy to read history of much of the history and cryptography the novel is based on.
  4. 90
    The Code Book by Simon Singh (S_Meyerson)
  5. 102
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (BriarE)
  6. 81
    Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (S_Meyerson)
  7. 71
    Secrets and lies : digital security in a networked world by Bruce Schneier (bertilak)
  8. 40
    The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (ahstrick)
  9. 51
    Daemon by Daniel Suarez (simon_carr)
  10. 40
    Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis (tomduck)
  11. 30
    PopCo by Scarlett Thomas (daysailor, Widsith)
    daysailor: Same kind of edgy writing, intertwining cryptography history with good story-telling
    Widsith: More cryptography and conspiracy and earnest philosophical asides (though Thomas writes women characters a lot better than Stephenson)
  12. 52
    The Alienist by Caleb Carr (igorken)
  13. 31
    Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Anonymous user)
  14. 20
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (psybre)
  15. 1614
    Moby Dick by Herman Melville (lorax)
    lorax: Seriously. A big fat book immersing the reader in a bizarre and alien culture, with well-written infodumps on subjects of interest to the narrator interspersed throughout the story. It's a very Stephenson-esque book.
  16. 10
    In Code: A Mathematical Journey by Sarah Flannery (bertilak)
  17. 10
    Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky (Busifer)
    Busifer: Many of the events featuring in Stephenson's Cryptonomicon have actually happened and while Budiansky isn't the most eloquent author his book is an interesting companion read.
  18. 21
    Enigma by Robert Harris (ianturton)
    ianturton: Another fictionalized look at Bletchly Park, shorter and with fewer Americans.
  19. 11
    The Martian by Andy Weir (sturlington)
    sturlington: If you like books with a lot of math in them...
  20. 00
    The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati (themulhern)
    themulhern: An exciting and tragic narrative with meditations on the effects of culture.

(see all 23 recommendations)


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» See also 417 mentions

English (194)  German (2)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Romanian (1)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (203)
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
This is an enormous book. It also scans 2 different time spans and many lead characters, a lot of whom are related between eras and is really detailed, so its a long read.

Basically this book kept me engaged, and I think it also actually gave me a good conceptual overview of codebreaking, but it will not be for everyone. It takes a long while to see where its headed and gets bogged down in a lot of technical and matthematic specifics when following characters of that bent. ( )
  autopoietic | Oct 28, 2015 |
Mixing two stories about cryptology. a World War II intrigue about breaking the communication codes of the Axis powers and modern day encryption of computer datafiles. Many of the modern day characters are descendants of the earlier cryptographers. Despite the interesting characters and fascinating insights into encryption, I found the novel to be way too long and the constant flipping back and forth between the two stories distracting. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
Mixing two stories about cryptology. a World War II intrigue about breaking the communication codes of the Axis powers and modern day encryption of computer datafiles. Many of the modern day characters are descendants of the earlier cryptographers. Despite the interesting characters and fascinating insights into encryption, I found the novel to be way too long and the constant flipping back and forth between the two stories distracting. ( )
  jwood652 | Oct 21, 2015 |
@cryptonomicon +quicksilver
  Lorem | Oct 2, 2015 |
Sections of the book (such as Bobby Shaftoe's adventures and the episodes with Alan Turing at Princeton) are brilliant, humorous and interesting.

Unfortunately, there are too many tangents and there's too much meandering, which is classic Stephenson style. It's a good book for those that enjoy such writing, but the style wasn't to my taste. ( )
  nvenkataraman1 | Aug 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 194 (next | show all)
''Cryptonomicon,'' on the other hand, is a wet epic -- as eager to please as a young-adult novel, it wants to blow your mind while keeping you well fed and happy. For the most part, it succeeds. It's brain candy for bitheads.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephenson, Nealprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dufris, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pannofino, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peck, KellanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"There is a remarkably close parallel between the problems of the physicist and those of the cryptographer. The system on which a message is enciphered corresponds to the laws of the universe, the intercepted messages to the evidence available, the keys for a day or a message to important constants which have to be determined. The correspondence is very close, but the subject matter of cryptography is very easily dealt with by discrete machinery, physics not so easily." —Alan Turing
This morning [Imelda Marcos] offered the latest in a series of explanations of the billions of dollars that she and her husband, who died in 1989, are believed to have stolen during his presidency.
"It so coincided that Marcos had money," she said. "After the Bretton Woods agreement he started buying gold from Fort Knox. Three thousand tons, then 4,000 tons. I have documents for these: 7,000 tons. Marcos was so smart. He had it all. It's funny; America didn't understand him." —The New York Times, Monday, 4 March, 1996
To S. Town Stephenson,
who flew kites from battleships
First words
Two tires fly. Two wail.
A bamboo grove, all chopped down.
From it, warring sounds.
He is disappointed because he has solved the problem, and has gone back to the baseline state of boredom and low-level irritation that always comes over him when he's not doing something that inherently needs to be done, like picking a lock or breaking a code.
The ineffable talent for finding patterns in chaos cannot do its thing unless he immerses himself in the chaos first.
This conspiracy thing is going to be a real pain in the ass if it means backing down from casual fistfights.
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Book description
Neal Stephenson enjoys cult status among science fiction fans and techie types thanks to Snow Crash, which so completely redefined conventional notions of the high-tech future that it became a self- fulfilling prophecy. But if his cyberpunk classic was big, Cryptonomicon is huge, gargantuan, massive-- not just in size but in scope and appeal. It's the hip, readable heir to Gravity's Rainbow and the Illuminatus trilogy. And it's only the first of a proposed series--for more information, read our interview with Stephenson.

Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods- -World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first. Of course, to observe is not its real duty--we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed. Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."

All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes--inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe--team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.

Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail and so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto--all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). --Therese Littleton, Amazon.com
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An American computer hacker operating in Southeast Asia attempts to break a World War II cypher to find the location of a missing shipment of gold. The gold was stolen by the Japanese during the war. By the author of The Diamond Age.

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